short answer Sunday — 6 short answers to 6 short questions

It’s short answer Sunday — six short answers to six short questions. Here we go…

1. Are interviewers Googling me and not liking what they find?

I have applied for many jobs starting at the beginning of this year. About 20% of the time I will get to the first interview, which I consider a feat in itself, but I never get past that point. I never get called back for a second interview even though I’ve felt like all of my interviews have gone well.

What I am wondering is if the hiring managers are Googling me and discovering something they don’t like. I own a domain name that is my name on which I have posted a personal statement of sorts. I do not put this on my resume or cover letter, but if you Google my name it will come up in the search results. Do you think hiring managers consider this gimmicky, tacky, or otherwise in bad taste?

In general, that’s possible, but I looked at yours and it’s wholly inoffensive; I can’t imagine that’s turning anyone off. What I think is more likely is that it’s (a) math — there are far more qualified candidates than there are openings, so even though you’re getting interviews, there might have just always been someone more qualified, and/or (b) your interviewing skills aren’t serving you well. It’s impossible to say from here, of course, but one option is to try asking for feedback from any interviewers who you felt particular rapport with. You could also check out my (free) interviewing guide and see if anything there helps. Good luck.

2. Coworker has naked photos displayed in his cubicle

My husband can’t figure this one out. Context: he works for a small tech company and is the most junior-level employee there. He has a coworker who has a cube right across from his. This man is senior to him, but not in a mangerial role. The man is a white guy in his late forties and has what can only be described as nudie pics as his desktop background and also as his calendar, which is all Playboy-like beach scenes of naked women basking on sandy shores. Whatever. I told him that this is rude and innappropriate. There are three women who work there, but they are all in their forties and fifties and seem resigned to the adage that “boys will be boys” or something like that.

By law, all my husband has to do is report this behavior to the HR representative and indicate that this behavior makes him feel uncomfortable (because it weirds him out). Yet, the HR rep is also the company CFO…and my husband does want to move up in the organization and would rather not jeopardize his role in front of an exec. What would you advise he do?

Does your husband really think that’s he’s going to jeopardize his future in the company by saying, “Hey, Bob has photos of naked women hanging in his cubicle — can someone ask him to take them down?” It’s a rare company that’s going to take a stand against someone who points this out — more likely they’re going to appreciate the heads-up before it becomes a bigger problem with someone else.

3. I want my old job back

I became interim director of my department in a large hospital almost a year ago. There has only been one interview for the director’s position in all that time because of the scarcity of the particular talent needed. I did not want the position. I have increased the size of the department during the time I have been interim and we still can’t keep up with the work. Part of it is because our organization has had one regulatory survey after the other which requires my department’s particular expertise. I am working 6 and 7 days a week, usually 10-12 hour days. I am exhausted and sick of this but don’t want to bail out on the organization. I keep waiting for us to get done with surveys or to hire a director so I can go back to my position and my life, but after a year and 4 big surveys with 2 even bigger ones to go, there is no end in sight.

The company has hired a consultant team to help us get ready for the upcoming surveys, but it has resulted in a lot more work because a revamping of our structure was needed. The director’s work is very different from the work I was doing, so I am having to direct preparation efforts for a large organization with a very small staff, keep the usual tasks of the department going, AND master the information and tasks of a really critical director’s job as I go. The consultant team recommended the hospital hire a professional interim for the director’s position but the hospital has elected not to do so. I’d like to keep my old job, or at least get my weekends back. What are my best options?

Ask for your old job back. Say that you can’t keep us the hours that are required in your interim role. Say that you can do it for two more weeks (or whatever) but that you can’t continue beyond that. If they tell you that you have to, then explain what you’ll be able to get done in X hours (fill in however many hours you’re willing to work), and let them know that they’ll need to make different arrangements for the other items (which you should list for them).

You might also start looking at other jobs, in case this goes on indefinitely.

4. Explaining you’re moving because of a spouse’s new job

My husband is finishing graduate school this May, and we are planning to relocate to either Los Angeles or NYC to support his career. I am in an awkward position with applying for new jobs. My field has been hit hard by the recession, but luckily last March I was finally able to land a job. I feel it looks bizarre to be applying for another job so quickly and that it needs to be addressed in the cover letter. How is the best way to state it? I have been using this line in my first paragraph after expressing my interest in a position — “In late spring, I am relocating to New York City to support my spouse’s career. I will not need assistance in traveling for interviews or for moving.”

That’s the general idea, yes, but I probably wouldn’t say “to support my spouse’s career.” Even though it’s accurate, it puts a little too much emphasis on supporting his career rather than your own. I’d instead say something like, “I’ll be relocating in New York City because my husband has accepted a job there.”

5. How do employers look at distance learning?

After I graduated from college, I immediately entered the work force as a retail manager while I looked for work in my field. Years later, I’m still working that same job and realizing I need to pursue a Masters degree to move into the field I want to be in. I don’t have the ability to quit working full-time to go back to school and have been looking at schools that offer distance learning degrees. I’m particularly interested in a university that is based in Ohio with brick-and-mortar schools but an extensive online presense. Because I live on the West Coast, I am concerned about how it will look to future employers to have a degree from a school from one state despite working and living in another. I am also curious what the general opinion of hiring managers is when it comes to distant learning. This school is a private, not-for-profit university that is accredited, not a for-profit like University of Phoenix.

It depends on the hiring manager, but in general distance learning is being more and more accepted, as long as you’re doing it through a program connected with a brick-and-mortar school (and, for many hiring managers, at one that has a recognizable name).

6. Recruiter contacted me about a job I’ve already spoken to the employer about

I am unemployed after recently graduating, and desperately looking for work in a certain field. I have been applying through job sites, but I know exactly which area of the city I want to work in so I have been researching big companies I might like to work for.

Today I got a call directly from a company that I applied for — sort of a pre-interview thing. We chatted for a few minutes and then he said he’d pass my info on to the hiring manager. I was super excited because it’s a great role, and I’m thrilled to finally speak to a “real” person as opposed to recruiters. But then literally 15 minutes later I received an email from a recruiter with info on a job I had applied for, asking for my thoughts and for me to contact her. I opened the document…and it’s the SAME company!

Have I made a huge mistake? I’m not applying for hundreds of jobs so this isn’t a case of resume bombing, but I’ve been seeking out really specific roles so when I find them, I apply. Did I commit a huge error by somehow not recognizing a similar job description? Do I tell the recruiter what happened? Wait until the hiring manager from the company calls me? I have never searched for a “real” job before so I’m not familiar with recruiter etiquette. What do I do? I really want this job!

Just let the recruiter know that the company has already contacted you directly about the job. You can then continue with the process you’ve already started with the company itself. No need to do anything more than that. (The recruiter will bow out at that point, because you’re already a “direct” candidate with the company; she won’t get paid for placing someone who they located themselves.)

{ 52 comments… read them below }

  1. Josh S

    #6: It sounds like the LW applied for the job directly and through the recruiter, without realizing it was for the same company/position. Does that change your response?

    1. BeenThere

      I don’t think it should. This has nearly happened to me and when you are applying for everything that fits two descriptions of the same role are going to look appealing. In my case I’d figured out that I’d seen a job description before and contacted the recruiter to ask if it was X company as I had already applied through another recruiter. The recruiter happily responded and indicated that it was indeed for X company. I could have easily applied twice for the same job it it wasn’t for a benefit mentioning a Yoga room in the advertising twigging my memory.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      Nope, since now the company “owns” the candidate and the recruiter won’t receive a fee for placing her there (and thus isn’t going to want to work with her on that placement anyway).

    3. Cathy

      This happens all the time. About 30% of the resumes I get from recruiters are already in my files. I just respond to the recruiter with “Thanks, but X already replied to our job posting on mm/dd/yyyy.”

    1. DA

      This was my thought exactly. I’m thinking the OP is the one who is offended because her husband may be occasionally seeing a naked picture or two.

      1. Leah

        I’m not offended that my husband has nudie pics near him. Frankly, he only really notices them when he is called into his colleague’s cubicle. I actually wasn’t aware of them until he told me he felt uncomfortable and asked me what I thought he should do. I am a professional career coach and, though I gave him my thoughts, I thought it couldn’t hurt to get a second opinion.

      2. Min

        I love the assumption that, because he’s a man, her husband cannot himself be offended by pictures of naked women in his workplace. She did say in her letter that it weirds him out. Not every guy wants to work around porn, soft-core though it may be. ;)

    2. ExceptionToTheRule

      Does someone have to be offended for them to just plain be inappropriate? I work in an industry that frequently pushes the limits and even for us, naked pictures would be over the line.

      1. EngineerGirl

        And it really doesn’t matter. Having pictures like that put the company at risk for anyone visting, such as a contractor or a client.

  2. Zahra

    #2: After reading about stories of gaming companies hiring topless models for parties (See the recent Gameloft story) and having promotional parties at stripper clubs, I’d be leery of mentioning Playboy style photos too. It really depends on the company culture. The OP’s husband may want to look for another job if it seems like an accepted thing in the company.

  3. AdAgencyChick

    #2: Totally agree with Alison. If the HR/CFO reacts badly to being told, that is one bizarre organization. (Also, I sympathize with your husband — I used to have a coworker who displayed not only a photograph of herself wearing a latex catsuit, bent over with her boyfriend preparing to spank her, and she also had a pair of five-inch-high red glitter stilettos in a place of honor next to the photo! WHY bring it to the office?!)

    #3: They’re not hiring a new director, interim or not, because they’re comfortable, and they’re comfortable because OP is breaking her (his?) back to get all the work done. I’m with Alison — the only way management will get out of that comfort zone is if the work stops getting done. Making your case in the way Alison suggests will make it clear that you can’t be the long-term solution to the problem of not having a director.

    1. Anonymous

      I agree with Ad Agency Chick’s assessment for #3. I was in a similar position with work added to my plate (not via a promotion or more salary). For more than a year I brought up the extensive pressure and increased responsibility with my manager and my VP who both said something along the lines of, “Well, we’re all working really hard and things should get better soon.” They only got better when I found another position in the department. They ended up creating three positions to fill my old job. And it was a revelation when one of the replacements (a friend and coworker) mentioned at lunch one day, “Hey, it took three men to replace you in your old job!” We laughed over it. But it was reality; as long as I was doing the job, nothing was going to change because I felt responsible to do a good job and therefore my management had no incentive to make any changes. Start looking for another job or start setting limits. Fight the feeling that you have to do it all. I sympathize. It’s hard. I couldn’t do it. Good luck.

  4. Carrie in Scotland

    #5 OP – I am currently putting myself through a degree with The Open University (an undergrad degree) and have had nothing but good and positive feedback when I have been interviewed. Self studying whilst having a job and a life shows good traits such as motivation (because you arent in halls -dorms – and in classes) and you can put a great spin on it to link up what things employers are looking for.

    1. Dan

      I noticed your name is “Carrie in Scotland.” Assuming you are, in fact, in Scotland, my guess is the OP is from the USA where the dynamics are totally different.

      This is my advice for candidates from the USA seeking online degrees: If you are already employed, and are required to “check a box” to move up in your organization, it doesn’t matter where you go, presuming the institution is accredited. If you are attempting to switch fields or don’t have a job, the name matters a whole lot more.

      1. Carrie in Scotland

        Yes, I am in scotland as my name suggests, thanks for the insight to USA online course feelings, I just thought that since the Open University is worldwide, it might be of some use to the OP.

    2. Jesicka309

      I am in Australia, and we have Open University here too. I’m currently studying a business marketing degree, and it’s attached to Swinburne. I’m surprised the US hasn’t embraced this concept, as its such a common thing here in Aus. My Dad got his degree that way.
      And I did the whole brick and mortar thing for my first degree and I can definitely say that Open Uni is infinitely harder. Going to work for 9 hours, then coming home and studying/doing assignments for another 4 is tough. Plus, you have to have a mature mentality about it – you must be self motivated. There are no weekly tutes to make you do your readings, no weekly lectures to force you to absorb information. And there are 4 semesters a year – so if you want to go on holidays, be prepared to take books and laptop with you!
      I’m over a third of the way through, and I know I will be so much prouder of this degree because so many more tears and sleepless nights have gone into it.
      And when you get your degree, it says eg. Swinburne, not Open Uni.
      OP 5, go for it! You will never regret getting more educated, especially if you don’t have to give up work to do it. It’s a hard slog, but worth it!

      1. JessB

        I totally agree! I just finished studying part-time a year ago, and it was really, really hard – but much harder for my classmates who were studying primarily online.

        I agree with Jesicka309, it takes motivation to study online and I’d give credit for that. It shows that you’re a go-getter – even though you might not live near a university, you’re studying anyway.

    1. aname

      I’ve just clicked through from your linked name on here. Its perfectly fine from where I’m standing and I can’t see why someone would look at it and not see it as a plus or a neutral. Certainly not a negative. Rework other areas of your jobsearch!

      1. Julie K

        Adam, I agree with aname. I am not currently job searching, but I have started listening to the video version of AAM’s interviewing guide, and it’s great! I have never gone into a job interview with the level of preparation that AAM recommends, and now I know how I can do so much better! Following the advice in the guide also gives you confidence, which makes a huge difference when you’re in a stressful situation.

        I would like to add that I was very impressed with your excellent grammar and punctuation. Unfortunately, it’s so uncommon that I notice when it’s done right. I hope I don’t sound like a snob – I’m really just a grammar/punctuation nerd. :) (And, most important, I know I don’t always get it right myself. I read a lot of grammar books, and I’m always surprised by the things I either never learned or completely forgot.)

        1. Adam

          Thanks for the compliments, Julie K. I love to write. I have Alison’s book and audio files, and think they are great resources.

  5. perrik

    #2: Outliers make better headlines than the norm – just because the media found some tech companies that modeled their parties on the Maxim lifestyle doesn’t make it typical. Parties are also not the same as workday conditions! All employees deserve a professional workplace environment; naked lady calendars/desktop pics are not part of a professional environment (well, unless this is a porn website).

    If this co-worker really can’t go for 8 hours without looking at saline-enhanced mammary glands, well, that’s what smartphones are for.

    #5: I earned my master’s online from a (state) university on the other side of the country. There is nothing in the transcript or on the diploma to indicate where I took the classes. If anyone asks you why you live in X state but are working on your degree in a school located elsewhere, explain that you chose that program because it met your needs by allowing you to gain new knowledge without interrupting your career. That’s quite sufficient. My current boss never asked, but then again, he graduated from the same program I did!

    #6 – Tell the recruiter. It’s not uncommon, so don’t fret that you did anything wrong! If you applied directly to the hiring company first, then they “own” your candidacy and the recruiter is out of the picture (because they would not receive a placement fee). If you applied to the recruiter’s ad first, the recruiter probably owns your candidacy and will work with you. This is for the recruiter and the hiring company to sort out, though.

    When I worked at a recruiting agency, we took pains to re-write the client’s job description to make it into a job advertisement. Many other agencies just post the client’s job description verbatim. It’s hilarious to run an Indeed search and see the exact same verbiage posted by multiple agencies and by the actual hiring company. So much for “confidential client”…

    1. Zahra

      #2: Then you should read a bit of #1reasonwhy… it’s educational, to say the least. Misogyny is part and parcel of many gaming companies (though we don’t know if this the case here) and they would take it poorly to be challenged on it. Maybe the OP’s husband could ask his female colleagues why it hasn’t changed? Maybe they complained already and nothing was done (or the complainer got fired)?

      1. fposte

        I don’t think it’s fair to make it his colleagues’ responsibility to object. If he’s offended, he should complain.

        1. Zahra

          That’s not what I’m saying at all. I’m mean that maybe, just maybe, someone already complained. If so, what was the outcome? If not, then he should complain if he’s offended.

          1. Anonymous

            That’s a good point, but I wouldn’t throw “misogyny” around in the workplace without knowing the facts first.

          2. fposte

            That makes more sense, but I’d still be underwhelmed if a co-worker came to me about such an issue just because I’m female. If it was somebody I was already pretty friendly with it would be different, but I’d feel like this was being couched as a “female problem” when the point is that it’s not.

  6. Sunshine DC

    #5, Your goals are commendable, and I think you would do well to adjust your thinking about what it takes to go back for an MA. If I were you, I’d concentrate on finding graduate fellowships and scholarships, seeking out and applying to university departments where there are good GA/TA (graduate/teaching assistant) opps, which will pay you a fulltime salary AND cover the tuition fees entirely. And even if you can’t get a full ride, think about whether or not an MA in your field of interest—as well as the valuable network you may acquire in the process of earning it—might be worth a low-interest student loan. If so, then invest in your education and best of luck :)

    1. Xay

      #5

      It really depends on your industry. Does the field you are interested in have a national accreditation organization? If so, that organization may help you get a sense of how reputable the university you are considering is. For example, I’m applying to online MPH programs, but I focused on programs that are accredited by the Association of Schools of Public Health.

    2. Xay

      @sunshine

      That isn’t realistic for everyone. Scholarships and fellowships for MA degrees are on the decline and taking on large amounts of student loan debt under the current student loan rules should be a last option.

      1. Sunshine DC

        Sure, I agree, absolutely. That’s why OP may have to do a lot of research to finding out where they are. And I suggested s/he consider whether or not it is worth it for them to take on a student loan – relevant to opening up opportunities and/or increasing salaries. Only OP can know this.

    1. Elizabeth

      I probably wouldn’t have mentioned the man’s race if I were the OP, but I think I can see a reason why she might have. There are a lot of different parts of identity that can either grant one privilege or not in a given setting: gender, race, sexual orientation, age, body size/shape, country of origin, etc. (It may vary setting to setting which attributes grant power/status. For example, being male may be advantageous in a law firm, but less so working an elementary school.) The OP may have been trying to state that although this employee isn’t a manager, he in multiple other ways holds “privilege” cards: for age (40s is often a well-respected age range in offices), gender, and race. Thus it may be more intimidating for others to challenge him, especially if the OP and her husband aren’t white.

      1. Anonymous

        +1

        Privilege still exists and can be highly relevant in workplace dynamics. I’ve been given less senior roles in the past despite performing well on objective metrics because “women just aren’t good at physics” and/or “people like you are just going to leave the professional workforce.” In my experience, this is somewhat worse in technical fields. Kudos to the OP and her husband for trying to make the world just a little bit saner.

      2. Andrew

        The trouble with this otherwise excellent analysis is the following:

        “There are three women who work there, but they are all in their forties and fifties and seem resigned to the adage that “boys will be boys” or something like that.”

        The OP seems to be throwing irrelevant qualifiers around without much thought.

        1. anon..

          I disagree. I got a pretty good idea of the makeup of his office from his descriptions – and the makeup of the office and WHO he works with, gender/age/race Does make a difference. There is no racisim/sexism/ageism here – just simple descriptors.

  7. De Minimis

    #2–I might ask someone else about it before going to HR. See if anyone has noticed it or said anything about it before. If it’s a smaller company they may already be aware of it and may not care. I would try to find out if someone has addressed it before doing anything “on the record” with HR. I think there might be a danger of being perceived as “not fitting in” or “making waves,” and for a junior employee that can be a problem.

  8. BW

    #6 – This happens all the time, because on top of the companies advertising jobs, different recruiters are all advertising the same jobs and actively contacting people with the job descriptions. You just tell the recruiter you’ve already applied to that job directly.

  9. Womble

    I think that Alison’s advice in #2 is off the mark, simply because the tech industry is woefully behind the times — especially a *small* tech company. Sadly, the norm in the tech industry is *still* that it’s a boys club, and “boys will be boys”. All too often, as a woman, you’ve either got to have a thick skin and ignore it, try to find one of the few havens of sanity, or get out of tech and into an industry where the culture *isn’t* built around adolescent male fantasies. Sad, and I wish it weren’t so (and I hope, in the very near future, that it *won’t* be so), but if one spends one’s life complaining about reality, one is in for a sad and frustrated existence. Embrace reality first, and *then* seek to change it.

    Having gotten that off my chest, if the OP’s husband wants to try and make the world a slightly better place, I’d definitely encourage him to speak up to someone in authority (whoever he thinks will be the most receptive, it’s a small company after all). Be prepared, however, for attitudes ranging from “it’s not hurting anyone”, through “don’t be such a prude” and “if you don’t like it, don’t look” all the way through to “cool, I wonder if he’s got any more I can hang in my cube”. And yes, bringing this up *could* hurt his long-term prospects at this firm — people tend to be very defensive of their prejudices.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      This is really a case of “know your employer.” It’s absolutely NOT true that what you’ve described is the culture at all small tech firms. If it is, the OP’s husband probably knows that and can factor that into his thinking. But absent any mention of it in the letter, I wouldn’t encourage the OP to assume that’ll be the case if he doesn’t already have evidence of that.

      1. Womble

        I agree I didn’t make it clear in my previous post that not *all* small tech firms are as I described. The company I work for certainly wouldn’t tolerate things like that. However, having worked in this exact sector (small IT firms) for a decade, I know such firms do exist — in fact, I would almost certainly place them in the majority. I know forcertain that firms exist where speaking out about such things would have a detrimental impact on a person’s career. Sad, but true.

        The fact that the OP’s husband has to ask what to do suggests to me that he does not know whether the firm would welcome his complaints, coming from a new and junior member of the team (and one who, in the value system of the sort of people who would condone this sort of thing, should be in *favour* of such pictures, not against them). That the pictures are still up after some non-trivial period of time is evidence against the suggestion that the firm would be receptive to such a complaint. Assuming there isn’t some sort of management-repelling field around the cube where the pictures are displayed, if there *were* people in authority in the company who felt that such pictures were inappropriate, they would have seen the pictures by now and dealt with them.

        To be sure, if *I* saw anything like that, I don’t care if you’re in my team or not — it’s gone, you’re gone, or I’m gone. I’m not going to be part of or contribute to that sort of environment. I have enough trouble hiring the quality of person I want, without encouraging an environment that has the very real possibility of making half my applicant pool uncomfortable. (By the way, if anyone, man, woman, or small-furry-creature-from-Alpha-Centauri, is interested in a dev manager job in Sydney, please let me know…)

        1. Jamie

          To be sure, if *I* saw anything like that, I don’t care if you’re in my team or not — it’s gone, you’re gone, or I’m gone.

          I like that phrasing and I was thinking the same thing. If I saw that anywhere I’d call the person into their office to remove it immediately – but then I know without asking that no one would contradict that (and in fact I’d be in hot water if I saw it and did nothing.)

          How this would affect an applicant pool is an interesting point. If I were interviewing and saw something like that on the office tour I’d withdraw my candidacy. And not because I’m a prude – I wouldn’t get the vapors or call a lawyer – but because something like that out in the open is indicative of the work environment being one in which I wouldn’t be comfortable.

  10. Anonymous

    Just had to add a voice of dissent to the “video game & tech companies are bastions of misogyny” concept. I used to work in the games industry as one of very few women, and while the “boys’ club” is sadly alive and well professionally (as I’m sure it is in other industries, too), I never found it to be misogynist in tone. Okay, maybe the “Booth Babes” at conventions were a bit much… but I don’t remember any of that around the office, at least not overtly. I can’t imagine any of my coworkers having Playboyesque pictorials in their cubes – much more likely to have action figures or movie posters – and they would be the first to respect any issues female OR male coworkers had with their language or choice of decor. I would actually get apologies sometimes when I wasn’t even sure what I might have been thought offended by!

    True, it was often kind of a clubhouse vibe and behavior was tolerated that might not be considered professional elsewhere, but that was more along the lines of yelling over cube walls, playing practical jokes on each other etc, not creating a sexually hostile workplace. That element WAS part of the culture so yes, if you weren’t comfortable with it, you might have a tough road ahead of you there… But when I left, there were many more women in the workplace, most of whom were gamers themselves and happily employed there. My environment may indeed have been unusual, and I don’t doubt others have had less fortunate experiences, but I just wanted to share my more positive experience. Perhaps very small companies have more issues with this?

  11. Tim C.

    #3
    Been there, done that. You are a victim of your own success. I have to say it but you probably can not go back. It will take a new job in a new organization to revitalize your career. Make sure you get a good 2 weeks vacation between jobs. They are not hiring because you are getting all the work done! Being a director, I guess you are not compensated for this either. I bet they never even said “Thanks”. You could have a new job and a life allot sooner than another year gone by. If you are not bitter by now, you will be very soon. This is not fair toy you or your family. No one signs up for this kind of treatment.

  12. ADE

    #5-

    I highly recommend, if you can, taking a program that’s not only affiliated with a brick and mortar, but a large, public brick and mortar. For example the one and only online program in my field is offered through UCLA extension, and yes it’s nice to have UCLA on a resume, it’s also well-known in the field that other than being a pricey piece of paper it does show commitment to the profession.

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